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Sunday, January 31, 2016

Key West - No Tea, No Sympathy, No Sale

A friend and I saw Mothers and Sons at the Waterfront Playhouse on Friday night. If you are in town between now and February 13th I urge you to see it.  Joy Hawkins is remarkable!

After we left the theater and headed up Duval Street. It was 9:30 PM and Duval Street was filled with people. Noise was blaring out from every bar. People carried go-cups on the sidewalks making their way to the next bar. As we approach Sloppy Joe's I told my friend about my walk up Duval Street last year after seeing another play at the Waterfront Playhouse. I was approached by a young lady hooker who asked me if I would like to party to which I replied "You've got the wrong guy" upon which I crossed Duval and headed east on Front Street to Simonton to avoid any more encounters. You see I'm gay and the thought of getting approached by a female prostitute cracked me up.

As we weaved our way up Duval Street I told my friend about an English couple I had worked with in the spring of 2004. They fell in love with a cute as can be two-story carriage house condominium located on Peacon Lane. The place was part of a larger project on Eaton Street where a grand old house was made into several first class condominiums. The project had just been completed. Everything looked great. They made a written cash offer on the unit that priced somewhere in the $700,000 range. I had hand delivered to the listing agent on a Thursday night. (This is in an age before Docu-sign existed and pdf's were not then in use.)  It's twelve years later and I remember this deal with clarity.

I followed my regular routine the next day. I went to the gym around 6:00 AM, worked out, and rode my bike back home. That's what people who live here do: they follow routines. That's what most people do no matter where they live.

When I got home I had several messages on my phone - all from the English man. I called him. He said his wife had been up all night crying. She was upset about the offer. He asked if I could come over to their guest house to discuss things. I dressed and drove over right away.

We met in a private space on the north side of the building. I asked what had happened. The lady said something to the affect "Gary, I can't walk up and down Duval Street all my life!" I asked again and she responded with a question "What do people who live here do?" as if people who live in Key West live alternative lives that only evolve around walking up and down Duval Street every day like characters in the Star Wars bar.
My friend works in the hospitality business. He said he gets asked the same question regularly.  He said I tell them I get up and go to work. On the weekends I do my laundry. I go to the grocery store and do other chores. Maybe I go out and do something fun.  He said it's like people think that our lives are different from theirs. They aren't.

I responded similarly to the English lady. I asked her what she does in England. I told her that we have three great local theaters - the Waterfront Playhouse, the Red Barn Theater, and the Tennessee Williams Fine Arts Center.  I told her about the opening night after parties where they could meet lots of new friends many of whom have rich personal histories from all over the world.  I know a lot of retired and semi-retired folks love going to the gym or doing yoga every day. I told her we have a great public golf course and said there are lots of boat slips if they are into boating. We have world class fishing. I told her whatever she does in England she could do here.

The gent told me he still wanted to buy the place but she had made up her mind and it was useless trying to change it. Key West was too foreign for her so we withdrew the offer. 

My office is located one-half block east of Duval Street. I rarely walk on that street. The noise and throngs of tourists drive me crazy. Most locals avoid that street as well. There are some locals that hang out in the bars, but they are the exception to the rule.

Duval Street provides a novel setting for tourists who need something to look at and someplace to go. Locals live their own lives in personal spaces. Some spaces are small and funky. Some places are grand. We have a wide mix of people from all over the world that make this little island their home. I sell houses.  If you are looking to buy a place here, please give me a call. I will show you there is life beyond Duval Street.

Friday, January 29, 2016

906 White Street, Key West ~ Price Reduction

906 White Street in Key West just became even more attractive than it already is because the asking price was just reduced to $1,199,000. The listing Realtor describes this lovely home this way:
"Lovingly restored home on the prettiest block on White Street. Spacious Conch cottage bordering The Meadows with everything you'd love in Old Town Key West: white picket fence, front porch and swing, bricked front yard with TWO gated off street parking spaces, heated pool with pool house/guest quarters, outside shower, entertainment area, outdoor dining, mature vegetation, split floor plan for privacy, each bedroom has en-suite bathroom, spacious interior and open concept kitchen-dining area. Centrally located, walk or bike to restaurants, grocery store, White Street Pier/beaches and be right on your porch for the famous Key West Walk on White art display. Truly a magnificent home with a warm, cozy feel. Easy to view! X Zone."

This was a simple house when it was originally built. It has been stylishly updated but not messed around with too much. By that I mean that the interiors are probably similar to the original construction but updated to provide comfortable contemporary features particularly in the kitchen and bathrooms. There are new additions at the rear of the original house which now house the kitchen and dining area, a guest bed and bath, and elevated rear deck area. New windows and mini-split air conditioning have been added through out the home.
The front living area flows into the kitchen and open dining area with high pitched vaulted ceiling. The newly remodeled kitchen includes new Kitchen Made  cabinets, stainless steel appliances, custom tiled counter-tops, and two sets of French doors that open out to the rear deck and pool area. Rich wood floors carry throughout the first floor which includes a downstairs bedroom with en-suite bath.
The photo just above shows the first floor front bedroom with attached bath. A door located next to the pedestal sink opens into the kitchen hallway, adjacent to the stairway to the second floor bedroom. I point this out because there is so much attention to little design details and also the utilization of usable spaces in this home.
There is another, but smaller, first floor bedroom located adjacent to the open kitchen and dining area. A door in the bedroom opens to the outside to provide quick escape or late night sneak-back entry to this bedroom. That bedroom has its own full bath as well.
The second floor bedroom and bath are just adorable. The wood floors in this bedroom are painted and provide a nice contrast to the yellow tones of the walls and the ceiling which is painted white. Battens accentuate the drama of these different building elements. The bathroom has classic black and white checkered tiles and crisp white bath fixtures. The ancient claw foot tub stands in contrast to the sheet of glass shower wall.
The attention to detail is found in all parts of this home. Note the built-in drawers in the bedroom area and the storage space built into the bathroom knee wall. All of the electric switches have small labels stating which feature they control. Nothing is left to chance .CLICK HERE to see more photos I took of this totally charming home.
When you exit the original house you walk out to a new porch that provides an outdoor dining area that is elevated just a bit above the pool level. You'll quickly see the pool house located on the opposite side of the pool. The pool house has an exaggerated height that is easily understood when you look inside where you will see a ladder to the loft sleeping area. The little building also has a bath  This home has a brief recent history as a monthly vacation rental property. The location is within easy walking distance to most of the gyms and yoga studios in Key West. The historic seaport is just a few blocks to the north and the hustle and bustle of Duval Street is a seven minute walk.

906 White Street is offered for sale at $1,199,000CLICK HERE to view the Key West mls datasheet and also the listing photos. Then please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642 to set up a private showing. I am a buyers agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Key West. I think this place is as cute as it can be. This home has been thoughtfully maintained and appears to be in very good condition. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

16 Golf Club Drive, Key West, Florida

I found the above old post card online. It depicts players and onlookers at the Key West golf course back during the Depression when the WPA was here capturing bits of everyday life in our little town. The federal government spent a lot of money on make-work projects to keep Key West from going under.  This post card is an example of such work. When I studied the post card I realized how utterly false it was. I mean if you have seen photos of regular Key Westers back in the 1930s they did not look or nor did they dress like this. Take the woman in the bathing suit with the golf club to her side. It's as if she is waiting for her turn to play through. Give me a break.

 Just Listed, but not by me, 16 Golf Club Drive which is located in the Key West Golf Club Community. Unlike the golf course depicted above, the modern day course is very much real and is open to the public. This two bedroom  home was built in 1992. It is offered for sale at an affordable price - just $387,000 .

I recall discussing the advantages of buying a place at the Key West golf club with a potential buyer several years ago. He said something like "I don't play golf!" as if that would negate any reason to consider buying a home there. I replied you don't have to play golf to live there. People that are buying homes at the golf course are not necessarily buying a lifestyle. They are buying a home. In a city where so many of our homes are priced so high, it's refreshing that there are still places like this that are priced this low. The main floor of this home is typical of these homes. A cute window looks out to the covered front porch and tree lined street beyond. The breakfast bar opens into the living area. The laundry room and a small half-bath are tucked under the stairway. Sliding doors at the rear of the living area open out to the covered back porch. I don't play golf, but I would love to have a view like this.

There are two bedrooms on the second floor both of which have private baths. The rear bedroom has a great view of the golf course while the front bedroom has French doors that open out to the second floor covered balcony. The ceilings in both bedrooms are vaulted which expands the spatial feel of both rooms. The area across the street is a fenced nesting area for terns.

The Key West Golf Club Community has beautiful tree lies streets, two pools, a clubhouse with a small gym, and a butterfly garden added for good measure. I looked at this property this past Sunday during an open house. I could not believe how many people were looking at this home. But when you consider the low price as compared to other properties in Key West, you quickly appreciate the value. 
CLICK HERE to view the Key West mls datasheet and listing photos. Then please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642,  to set up a private showing of this cute Key West home that is offered for sale at $387,000. I am a buyers agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Key West. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Ronny Bailey - Key West Folk Art - Peter's Fish Market and Gas Station

If you are in Key West this coming weekend, you are invited to attend the 31st Annual Key West Craft Show being held January 30 - 31, 2016 between 10 AM - 5 PM on Whitehead Street between Eaton and Caroline Streets. Admission is Free. Among the featured artists is Ronny Bailey, Key West Folk Artist.  I have written about Ronny on several precious occasions. He is a Conch by birth, a contractor by trade, a Christian by choice, and an artist by inspiration. Ronny retired from his trade several years ago and began to tinker with old Dade County Pine he had saved from various jobs. After his wife Stephanie saw his first creation, she remarked "I didn't know you could do that!" to which he replied "Neither did I". Thus began his career as a folk artist. He has created numerous miniature cottages that portray the Key West architecture of yore. He used specific homes as his historic reference. Some of the homes no longer exist, and some that do exist have been gentrified and no longer look as bedraggled as before. Later he tackled commercial enterprises. Two of his most recent pieces, both of which are commercial enterprises, and shown in today's blog,  will be on display this weekend at the craft show.
The top black and white photo above shows Peter's Fish Market which is the subject of one of the new pieces. Peter's Fish Market which dominated the Key West fish scene for many years was located on Front Street on the waterfront. If you look to the right you will see an artist painting the building even then. The building was the inspiration decades later when Ronny Bailey decided to create a miniature version. Peter Roberts (the gent in the straw hat above looking down at the catch of the day) was the proprietor. The Coca Cola sign above the loading platform is original to the site. Ronny added a bit of whimsy when he added the red delivery truck.In fact all of Ronny's creations are dotted with whimsy. You'll note the perched pelican atop the Fish Market sign, the bucket of fish on the loading platform, and the idle "worker" standing around with his hand in his pants inside the market. In his book Grits & Grunts: Folkloric Key West Stetson Kennedy wrote "In 1940, the Key West waterfront, like the street fronts, was looking beat-up, unpainted, and picturesque". Today the old waterfront has been replaced by high priced hotels, restaurants, and t-shirt shops. Some call it progress.
I knew from past conversations with Ronny that he used salvaged Dade County Pine to create the majority of his projects. I questioned him how he created the details in this installation. He said he used his table saw to slice the Dade County Pine into small sheets and used the saw to create individual boards, timbers, and other wood pieces. He hand carved the male worker figure. He fashioned the metal roof from old metal. He painted and repainted the roof to create the patina.  He told me he always wanted to build a truck and he got the opportunity here. He bent old metal to create the truck's body. He carved the wheels out of wood.
You can "click"any photo to enlarge the image. You might want to click the image two above to see the cost of turtle steak back in the day. And if you click the image immediately above you will see the word "PEACE" on the rear bumper. Elsewhere you will see LOVE and JOY. These are the three watchwords of this gentle artisan. CLICK HERE to view more photos of Peter's Fish Market.

If you look closely at the red gas pumps you will see the Biblical reference to JOY and LOVE.  Ronny bent metal to create the pumps. Then he applied layer upon layer of various colors of paint to create the weathered and rusted surface. The old light bulb in the last image is actually wood that was repeatedly dipped into a white enamel paint which created the effect of the light bulb. The weathered floor boars and siding are the natural patina of old Dade County Pine which Ronny planed and sliced to perfection. Ronny confided that other carpenters have told him that he inspired them to create similar pieces. They became so frustrated in the detail work necessary to achieve similar perfection  that they smashed their pieces to smithereens. CLICK HERE to see more photos of the gas station.

I encourage locals and visitors to check out Ronny Bailey's stand this weekend. And if you really appreciate his work, to buy an original piece. He also has more affordable prints that you can take home. They will be a continuous reminder of how special Key West is. Like our old houses, these pieces of art will only go up in value. 


The information on this site is for discussion purposes only. Under no circumstances does this information constitute a recommendation to buy or sell securities, assets, real estate, or otherwise. Information has not been verified, is not guaranteed, and is subject to change.


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Key West, Florida, United States
I first read about Key West in a magazine called "After Dark" sometime in the mid 1970's. But it wasn't until March 1984 that I made my first visit to the island that would become my home. I had two weeks for a vacation and reserved a room at Colours Guesthouse (now Marrero's Guest House) for one week. I thought that if I didn't like Key West, I could always go back to Miami or Ft. Lauderdale for the rest of my trip. But after a couple of days in Key West, that was no longer a consideration. But when I wanted to extend my stay for the extra week I found there was no room at the inn. The guesthouse owner did find me a room at LaTeDa, the infamous guesthouse/restaurant. That's a story I'll write another day. But those two weeks in Key West gave me the realization that I had found Paradise. Key West has been my home since 1993 and my only regret is that it took me so long to get here. I am a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties CRI. Let me help you find your new home or business in Paradise. Living in Paradise is not a slogan, it's a way of life.